Smart, cunning, opportunistic, trickster – these are some of the words that come to mind when many of us think about jackals. There are three species of this mischievous canid (member of the dog family) in Africa: the golden jackal, the black-backed jackal and the side-striped jackal.

Jackals are native to Africa, Europe and Asia. Preying on smaller, weaker animals and feeding on leftovers from bigger predators are some of the tricks they use to help them catch their prey and outsmart rivals.

Here are six interesting facts about jackals:

1. These feisty mammals are very adaptive to their environment. They are found in many different habitats, including deserts, forests and grasslands, and even in urban areas.

Black-backed jackal standing on a track
(Image: Flow Travel)

A black-backed jackal standing on a track.

2. Jackals fall under the scientific-classification family Canidae and the order Carnivora. However, with their diverse diet that includes small mammals, reptiles, insects, carcasses of larger animals and even plants, it is safe to say that they are omnivores.

Black-backed jackal feeding on its prey
(Image: Flow Travel)

A jackal feeding.

3. During the day, especially when it’s hot, jackals prefer to rest out of sight for their protection and for some shade. They are usually found in dense vegetation, rock crevices or holes.

Black-backed jackal resting in dense vegetation
(Image: Flow Travel)

Jackals can often be found in dense vegetation.

4. Jackals have long legs, which are common in the Canidae family, and a light build. This allows them to run for extended periods and comes in very handy when chasing prey and getting away from danger.

Black-backed sprinting
(Image: Flow Travel)

Jackals have the perfect build for sprinting to catch their prey.

5. Jackals are usually nocturnal, which means they are active during the night. However, they can also be diurnal, especially black-backed jackals, which is why people see them more frequently than other species of jackal.

Black-backed jackals resting
(Image: Flow Travel)

Young jackals resting in daylight.

6. They play an essential role in the balance of the ecological system by controlling populations of birds and other small mammals. They also remove sick and old animals from the ecosystem.

Black-backed jackals staring from a distance
(Image: Flow Travel)

Jackals are smart and alert.

Jackals are fascinating creatures. Their intelligence, body structure and ability to adapt help them navigate life in the different environments they call home and survive in the wild.

If you are interested in seeing jackals in person and witnessing their intelligence first-hand, contact us at and we will tailor a travel experience to your preference.